Results: Sotheby's Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

As Asia week rolls on in New York City the results are now starting to come in, and so far look strong.  The results posted today are from the Sotheby's Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Sale, which is only one of many sales being conducted this week in and around NYC. When the consolidated reports come out for each auction house I will also post those results, as it gives a good indication for the market sector.

The sale offered 318 lots with 224 selling for a acceptable 70.4% buy through rate.  I say the buy through rate is only acceptable as in the past we have seen many Chinese/Asia sales with an over 85% - 90% buy through percentages.  The sale totaled $20.71 million.  The sale sold 82.3% by value, indicated the lots which did sell, sold very well.  The pre sale high estimate was $16.8 million, so even with a 30% buy-in rate, the selling lots performed extremely well.

The top selling lot was a Famille Rose brushpot with aQianlong seal mark, making $1.97 million against a pre sale estimate of $120,000 to $150,000.  The second highest selling lot was a similar Qianlong brushpot, selling for $1.54 million against an estimate of $80k to $120k.  One sold to an Asian trade dealer and the other a private Asian collector. (see image for the two pieces)

The Asian market remains strong, and I really have to credit the auction house specialist who have to work with Chinese works, as it is so hard to determine a fair estimate in today's market.

The top ten lots broken down as follows, 4 to Asian Trade, 4 to Asian Private, one to the trade and one as anonymous.  A strong representation from dealers at this sale, even with the high realized prices, although they could be bidding for clients.

 Sotheby's reported on the sale

Today at Sotheby’s the Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Sale brought the outstanding total of $20,709,776, significantly exceeding the pre-sale high estimate of $16.8 million. The auction was led by two  Extremely Rare Famille Rose ‘Heaven  and Earth’ Revolving Brushpots, with Qianlong seal marks and dated to the period (ests. $120/150,000 and $80/120,000) which brought a combined total of $3.5 million. There were also exceptional prices for jades, archaic bronzes, furniture, and furniture among other areas of the sale which was over 70% sold.

Henry Howard-Sneyd, Vice Chairman, Asian Art and one of today’s auctioneers commented: “Today’s outstanding total of $20.7 million showed that collectors are prepared to fight for objects with rarity and good provenance when offered at conservative estimates. Two Revolving Brushpots from the Qianlong period led the sale bringing a combined total of $3.5 million, many multiples of the high estimates. These astonishing pieces are the product of ingenious design and almost miraculous craftsmanship.”

The revolving brushpots came from a Massachusetts private collection and were each just 4¾ inches high. Bidding was ferocious on both pieces, with collectors making extraordinary leaps. At one stage, the auctioneer asked for a bid from the room and was offered $100,000, immediately to be trumped by a Sotheby’s specialist bidding for a client by phone yelled out $1 million.  The brushpots eventually sold for $1,986,500 (est. $120/150,000) and $ 1,538,500 (est. $80/120,000).  Among the first lots to come up for sale in today’s auction was a group of archaic bronzes, which was led by A Rare Archaic Bronze ‘Double Owl’ Ritual Food Vessel (You), Shang Dynasty, 12th century BC. The double-owl you saw competition from bidders both in the saleroom and on the telephones, finally selling to a buyer for $1,258,500, more than tripling pre-sale low expectations (est. $400/600,000). The work represents an interesting final step on the evolutionary ladder of this intriguing form.

The second lot in the auction, and another highlight of this group, was an Archaic Bronze Ritual Food Vessel (Liding) Shang Dynasty, which sold for $254,500, more than  four times its high estimate (est. $40/60,000).

Highlighting the Jade section in the auction, an mperially Inscribed Finely Carved Spinach Jade Brushpot, Qianlong Period, dated to 1795, which sold for a remarkable $1,426,500, six times its pre-sale low estimate after it was sought by at least five bidders (est. $200/300,000). Carved from a solid piece of jade, the rim of this superb brushpot is inscribed with a poem composed by the Qianlong emperor and exemplifies the zenith of pictorial jade working achieved by craftsmen during his reign.

Further works in Jade that performed exceptionally well and far surpassed pre-sale expectations was an 18th century Fine White Jade Teapot and Cover, Qing Dynasty, which brought $572,500 against an estimate of $30/40,000, and an  18th century Qing Dynasty Large White Jade Ruyi Scepter, which brought $542,500, above an estimate of $150/200,000.

Furniture was also highly sought after with A Fine Huanghuali Yokeback Armchair (Sichutou Guanmaoyi) Ming Dynasty. 17th Century selling for $542,500, comfortably exceeding the high estimate (est. $300/400,000). A Fine And Rare Huanghuali Compound Cabinet (Dingxiang Gui), 17th Century also surpassed the high estimate to fetch $512,500 (est. $250/400,000).
Source: Sotheby's 

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